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Press Release - 11th February 2021

The OneValley Pittsburgh Startup Challenge Launches with Support from the RK Mellon Foundation, Ascender, and Almono LP

The Richard King Mellon Foundation Awards a $500,000 Grant to Build a Virtual Entrepreneurship Platform for Pittsburgh

OneValley, a global innovation platform, today announced the launch of the Pittsburgh Startup Challenge.  Pittsburgh based startups can now apply for a chance to share in over $50,000 of non-dilutive funding. The Startup Challenge is the first step in the launch of OneValley's Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform being built in partnership with top local organizations to empower the city’s vibrant startup community.

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“Pittsburgh has an opportunity to redefine how local communities can  fuel economic development through fostering entrepreneurship” said Nikhil Sinha, CEO of OneValley. “The Pittsburgh Startup Challenge kick-starts a coordinated effort to bring a connected, value-added support system to Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs including a new state-of-the-art OneValley innovation center in Hazelwood Green and access to the  Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform, an online community that will make it easier for Pittsburgh's startups to connect with capital, customers and talent globally.”


The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to fund the creation of the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform, powered by OneValley’s Passport and managed by the OneValley team. Ascender, an East Liberty-based entrepreneurial hub, is acting as the fiscal sponsor and supporting OneValley as a local partner. Launching to the public in April 2021, the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform will be an online community connecting startups emerging from the Pittsburgh region with mentors, investors, savings on essential business tools, and other resources curated by experienced community managers. Early limited access to the platform will be provided to all participants in the Pittsburgh Startup Challenge.

“Our recent funding has been focused on fueling the 2021 recovery in our region - and building a resilient ecosystem of entrepreneurs and innovators is of critical importance in that endeavor,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation and a member of Almono. “Our latest grant will help early-stage startups gain access to an invaluable community of experts and mentors who care deeply about making Pittsburgh a model of post-pandemic innovation.”


“The past year has proven that innovation hubs must combine in-person communities with an equally strong virtual support structure,” said Nadyli Nuñez, Executive Director of Ascender. “OneValley is deeply experienced with building both, making our partnership incredibly timely in our efforts to ignite Pittsburgh’s startup scene.”


The Pittsburgh Startup Challenge opens today for applications. The details are as follows:

  • Applications are live now through March 31, 2021

  • Startups must be based in the Pittsburgh region to be eligible for the competition

  • Companies of all stages and industries are welcome to apply

  • Semi-finals events will be held throughout the month of May

  • A pitch challenge for the finalists will be held at the grand opening of OneValley’s Innovation Center at Hazelwood Green planned for Summer 2021. 

About OneValley

OneValley is a global entrepreneurship platform that supports entrepreneurs, accelerates startups, and empowers organizations across the globe that foster innovation communities. OneValley directly supports over 35,000 members and indirectly another 175,000+ through our B2B partnerships and platforms, powered by our online platform Passport, the world’s most comprehensive innovation platform connecting Silicon Valley to the World and the World to Silicon Valley.


About the Richard King Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2019 endowment was $2.7 billion and its Trustees in 2019 awarded 172 grants totaling $129 million, focused on the Foundation’s strategic priorities: economic development, education, and human services in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and environmental conservation across the United States.

About Ascender

Ascender, a 501(c)3 and vibrant community of innovators located in East Liberty, helps entrepreneurs start and build their companies by offering educational programming, mentorship, expert coaching, incubation, and a collaborative coworking space. In 2020, Ascender worked with more than 40 community partners to support 500+ startup founders and small business owners from various industries thrive. Get to work with Ascender by visiting


Vanessa Torre, OneValley

Tim Reeves, Richard King Mellon Foundation

Nadyli Nuñez, Ascender